Anacostia is a historic neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Its historic downtown is located at the intersection of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. It is the most famous neighborhood in the Southeast quadrant of Washington, located east of the Anacostia River, which the area is named after. Like the other quadrants of Washington, D.C., southeast encompasses a large number of named neighborhoods, of which Anacostia is the most well known.


The name "Anacostia" comes from the name of a Nacochtank Native Americans settlement along the Anacostia River. [cite book |author=Humphrey, Robert L., Mary Elizabeth Chambers |title=Ancient Washington: American Indian Cultures of the Potomac Valley |publisher=George Washington University |year=1977] Captain John Smith explored the area in 1608, and met Anacostans while traveling up the "Eastern Branch" or Anacostia River. [cite book |title=A Sketch of the Natural History of the District of Columbia |author=McAtee, Waldo Lee |publisher=H.L. & J.B. McQueen |year=1918]

The core of what is now the Anacostia historic district was incorporated in 1854 as Uniontown and was one of the first suburbs in the District of Columbia. It was designed to be financially available to Washington's working class, many of whom were employed across the river at the Navy Yard; its (then) location outside of and isolated from the city made its real estate inexpensive. The initial subdivision of 1854 carried restrictive covenants prohibiting the sale, rental or lease of property to anyone of African or Irish descent. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, often called "the sage of Anacostia," bought Cedar Hill, the estate belonging to the developer of Uniontown, in 1877 and lived there until he died in 1895. The home is still maintained as a historical site in Anacostia.

During the Civil War, Anacostia was protected by a series of forts upon the hills southwest of the city. Following the conclusion of the war, the forts were dismantled and the land returned to its original owners.

Anacostia, always part of the District of Columbia, became a part of the city of Washington when the city and District became in 1878.

Anacostia's population remained predominantly White up until the 1950s, with Whites comprising 87% of the population. During the 1950s, the Anacostia Freeway (I-295) was constructed. The highway imposed a barrier between the Anacostia neighborhood and the Anacostia River waterfront. Numerous public housing apartment complexes were also built in the neighborhood. With the flight of much of the middle class out of the neighborhood during the 1950s, Anacostia's demographics changed dramatically as the neighborhood became predominantly African-American.

Shopping, dining, and entertainment facilities throughout greater Anacostia became and are still minimal and scanty, so that residents often must travel to either the suburbs or downtown Washington for these services. Anacostia, however, does have a year-round ice skating rink at Fort Dupont Park; the city police boys' club; and an excellent new "tennis and learning center" combining sports with academic tutoring in Congress Heights. 2005 saw the opening in Anacostia of Trinity Washington University's convert|110000|sqft|m2|sing=on Town Hall Education Arts & Recreation Campus (THEARC), which includes a Covenant House. Free summer evening jazz concerts are also given weekly in Fort Dupont Park. The annual Martin Luther King Birthday Parade is a notable event each January (if weather permits) along the Avenue bearing Dr. King's name. Also see the separate article on Congress Heights. In January 2007 a new supermarket opened.

Present day

As of the 2000 Census, Anacostia's population is 92% African-American, 5% Non-Hispanic White, and 3% other. Anacostia, today, is primarily known for its excessive crime rates that reached a peak in the 1990's Fact|is this still true despite the gentrification of the areas around the ballpark? isn't the crime primarily in other parts of southeast?|date=July 2008. After decades of neglect, crime has been a major problem in this area of the city. In 2005, 62 of Washington, D.C.'s 195 homicides occurred in the 7th District of the Metropolitan Police Department, which also includes the neighborhoods of Barry Farm, Naylor Gardens, and Washington Highlands. This figure is down from the 7th District's peak of 133 homicides in 1993 [ [,a,1239,q,543308,mpdcNav_GID,1523.asp Metropolitan Police Department] - Crime Statistics] .

Anacostia is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic district retains much of its mid-to-late 19th-century low scale, working class character, as is evident in its architecture. Infobox nrhp
name = Anacostia Historic District
nrhp_type = hd

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location = Roughly bounded by Good Hope Rd., 16th St., Mapleview
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added = October 11, 1978
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In 1959, an Anacostia landmark, the World's Largest Chair, was established at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and V Street, SE. The chair was built by Bassett Furniture for Curtis Brothers Furniture Store, formerly located at this site. In the summer of 2005, the "Big Chair" – as it's known – was removed for repairs then returned in April 2006. Other important facilities in the Anacostia area include Bolling Air Force Base, Anacostia Naval Air Station, Saint Elizabeth's psychiatric hospital (more than 100 years old), and Greater Southeast Community Hospital. The Washington Navy Yard and the Washington Nationals professional baseball stadium are both located not quite in Anacostia but rather on the North side of the Anacostia River.

Central Anacostia is served by Anacostia Senior High School, a general academic high school part of the District of Columbia public school system. Ballou High School is in southern Anacostia. At both schools, as of 2007, only 6 percent of students have proficient Math scores.

Famous people who grew up or have lived in Greater Anacostia at various times include Marion Barry, former Mayor of Washington; Marvin Gaye, late recording artist/songwriter; Frederick Douglass, noted abolitionist and government official (see note above); Denyce Graves, New York metropolitan opera singer; Roy Clark, country singer/guitarist/songwriter and TV personality; Danny Gatton [] , noted guitarist whose well-regarded album 88 Elmira Street references his childhood home in Anacostia, Calvin and Wilhelmina Rolark, founders of the United Black Fund; Ezra Pound, noted poet; and Stacy Lattisaw, and Peaches & Herb, recording artists.


*The Anacostia Museum, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution, was established in 1967 by S. Dillon Ripley, then-Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

*The Honfleur Gallery, located near the corner of Martin Luther King Ave and Good Hope Road is a gallery showcasing nationally-known works alongside that of local artists. It also hosts a bi-monthly poetry series called Intersections, sponsored by the American Poetry Museum.


The neighborhood, served by the Anacostia Metro station, is a ten minute ride on Washington Metro's Green Line from downtown Washington; other metro stations on the Green and Orange lines serve other parts of Greater Anacostia.

Anacostia Waterfront Initiative

Founded in 2000, the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative plans to revitalize a 45 acre piece of the Anacostia River waterfront to promote community and appreciation of one of the District of Columbia's greatest natural resources.

Plans include numerous parks restored of their natural wetlands and forests, canoe tie-ups, a playground, a four-acre 9/11 Memorial Grove, and an Environmental Education Center. The Center will engage visitors in learning about the history and use of the Anacostia River through a convert|9000|sqft|m2|sing=on, two story complex topped by a green roof/nursery center with classrooms, labs and a multipurpose area beneath. [] Studios Architecture was chosen to be the Architect of the project, while the administrating agency will be the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation. []

ee also

* Congress Heights
* Fort Greble
* Fort Stanton
* Bellevue
* Washington Highlands
* Hillcrest


External links

* [ Anacostia Historic District]
* [ And Now, Anacostia]
* [ Honfleur Gallery]

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